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Maker Mondays at Pine-Richland High School offer creative outlet

| Wednesday, March 29, 2017, 9:00 p.m.

The Northern Tier Library has announced its Maker Mondays April programming at Pine-Richland High School.

This upcoming month, students can expect to make felt earbud holders, origami and visual art.

“It's important for kids and teens to have a place where they can be creative and explore new ideas, but do it in an nonjudgmental way,” said Northern Tier Library Director Diane Illis. “There's not an assignment, no grade, they just come in and try what they want.”

The program — which started in 2016 and is supported by the Mae Dreier Memorial Fund and the Sprout Fund — has taken a cue from the national maker trend of combining traditional crafts with new software applications and 3-D printing technologies.

“A lot of different organizations, schools libraries and museums are doing it. People learn in different ways,” said Illis.

The Pine Center is a participant in the regional Remake Learning Days, an initiative of 250 Southwestern Pennsylvania and West Virginia organizations to promote science, technology, art and outdoor activities.

“Last year [for Remake Learning Days] the students made video game controllers,” said Elizabeth Schwartz, reference librarian, who works at the Pine Center. “They used MaKey MaKey kits, paint and construction paper to build controllers and hooked it up to the computer to play games.”

A MaKey MaKey kit is a small circuit board.

The next Remake Learning Days are this coming May.

“We're going to use MaKey MaKey kits to make a pop-up piano that they can plug into the computer,” Schwartz said.

Still, Illis said that some traditional crafts stand the test of time.

“The most popular thing we do is when we get to use the button maker. Students use the computer to print what they want and make a button,” Illis said. “There's a lot of paper crafts, too. Every time I stop over, I end up participating.”

While the Maker Mondays program takes place every week during the school year from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m., students are welcome to use the maker equipment and supplies at any time that the Pine Center is open. During the summer months, the maker station moves to the Northern Tier Library.

“We have a sewing machine, electric circuit kits, button-making machines, yarn and general craft supplies,” Schwartz said. “They like to use our computer as well. This allows them to use their imagination.”

Ashley Murray is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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